Interview for with Jim Sammons E-mail
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 05:25
Jim Sammons Exclusive Interview for KFM

KFM: Jim, can you tell our readers a bit about you and what you do?

JS: I am a San Diego CA native, and have been fishing these waters and the waters of Baja for most of my life. I own La Jolla Kayak Fishing and

KFM: How did you get involved in kayak fishing?

JS: As a kid we use to paddle our long boards out on the flat days and fish from them. My future father in law introduced me to touring kayaks and all I was doing was looking at the places I could get to fish, as soon as I saw my first sit on top kayak, I knew I had to make the switch. That was over twenty years ago and I have been an addict ever since. I started my business La Jolla kayak fishing over twelve years ago and have been guiding full time for the past six years.

KFM: You run kayak fishing trips down to Baja, can you explain what a typical day is like on of one these trips?

JS: I wish I could say there was a typical day, but every day can be a new and exciting adventure. We may start the day fishing for tuna and end the day being dragged miles from shore by a 200 pound Marlin. All of our fishing days are accompanied by a support boat for safety reasons and so that we have a greater range. This gives our clients the best opportunity to get to the fish and get in the most fishing hours with the least of amount of paddling just to get to the grounds. Our clients target Roosterfish right at the beach and can venture a mile off the beach to get to the Tuna, Dorado, and Billfish. We finish our days dining while looking over the Sea of Cortez and swapping stories of that day's adventure usually while sipping on a cold cerveza or margaritas.

KFM: What is your most memorable moment on one of your trips?

JS: It is so hard to say, I have been lucky enough to have so many great memories of great trips. Being the first person to catch a Marlin from a kayak here in La Jolla in 1998 was such a thrill. Repeating the feat a few years later, in Baja, while fishing with my friend Alonso is certainly up there on the list. Having since put 15 clients on Billfish and seeing how thrilled and excited they are from the catch is just as much fun for me as it is for them. Catching the kayak fishing record 60lb Bull Dorado last year while I was with my wife and kids is certainly something I will never forget, though I don't know if that was any more memorable than when my son, then eight caught his first Dorado from a kayak unassisted. Oh the list could go on and on, like I said I have been pretty lucky.

KFM: You have been in this industry for quite a long time, as long as anyone out there, is there anything that you have done that you are most proud of?

I am proud of the fact that I have helped on the OK line of fishing kayaks from conception to design, which I hope will drive all the kayak manufactures to make better fishing boats.

I am proud to be part of the great community of kayak fisherman around the world. I am proud of my stance on conservation and catch and release while still supporting and fighting for the rights of anglers to fish and to keep an acceptable amount of their catch.

I am proud to have been the first to really explore kayak fishing mother ship trips.

I think the thing I am most proud of is our charity tournament held every year. We started the Steve Moyer Memorial kayak fishing tournament five years ago when our friend and kayak angler Steve Moyer was taken from us from a brain tumor. Thanks to the support of the participants and the great sponsors like Ocean Kayak, Wilderness Systems, Hobie kayak, Malibu , Cobra, Maui Jim, Shimano, Okuma and more than I can name here, we have raised over $42,000 dollars for the American Cancer Society. With so many of our friends and family being affected by this illness, this event really means a lot to my family and friends.

KFM: Besides guiding you do instructional courses for kayak fishing; can you tell us a bit about them?

JS: I like to call my business an instructional guide service; teaching for me is the most important part of my job. Most of my clients are people that want to get into the sport and my job is to teach them what they need to know to do this sport not only effectively but more importantly safely. Because we normally do private outings I am able to gear the day toward what each client needs to learn to really enjoy the sport. We cover everything from basic paddling skills, surf skills, boat rigging, and techniques specific to fishing from a kayak. I really want someone to walk away from a day with me feeling confident to get out on the water feeling safe and feeling like they can get out there with the other guys and get some fish.

KFM: What is the biggest mistake you see from new kayak anglers?

JS: Not taking the time to learn to be a good paddler or taking a class to learn the surf zone. I have long said the biggest problem with kayak fisherman is that they are fisherman first and kayakers a very distant second. If they only would take the time to learn to be good paddlers they would be much better kayak fisherman. They would enjoy their time on the water more, would be able to cover greater distances with less effort and would be more confidant when the conditions go bad.

KFM: I know somebody who traveled to you from NY to take your surf launching clinic, when he got back I asked him how did it go and he said that "I can launch through any size surf because of that course!" What is the most important thing you can tell a newbie who needs to navigate the surf line?

JS: Take a class, then practice, practice, practice. Playing in the surf in your kayak is a lot of fun and you will learn a lot and really gain confidence in the danger zone. If there is one mistake that I see the most it is people getting so fixed on heading in that they pay no attention to what is about to hit them from behind. A simple look over the shoulder can save you from a yard sale on the beach.

Your kayak is going to turn sideways so learn to brace; lean into the wave, put your paddle into the base of the wave, lean on your paddle, and keep the leading edge of your kayak up. Practice Practice Practice!!!! It's Fun

KFM: You worked with Ocean Kayak on their development of new kayaks, most recently the Prowler Trident. What was the goal in that design?

JS: The Prowler was one of the first kayaks made for fishing from the ground up and that was over five years ago. There were some issues that needed to be addressed, as well as new ideas that we wanted to get out there. Building the Trident gave us that opportunity.

KFM: It seems to me that it is very similar in size to the Prowler 15', what are the differences between them?

JS: At a glance they may seem similar but once you get on one you will see and feel the difference. The volume and carrying capacity of the Trident is much greater than the original P15 and the boat is 4 inches longer. One of the big complaints we heard about the P15 was the wet ride, particularly when used by a bigger guy or someone like myself that carries everything including the kitchen sink on their boat. That is no longer an issue on the Trident, the boat is higher volume but because of the added length it has lost none of the speed the Prowler is known for.

Because kayak fishing has evolved over the past few years and the kayak fisherman are getting more sophisticated we put a lot of thought into the design of the Trident for the fisherman. The addition of the sonar shield and the Rod Pod are the noticeable changes another modification that is not so noticeable is the placement of the cockpit. Because kayak fishermen tend to carry most of their weight from the cockpit, back, in prior designs the boat was not trimmed properly in the water and the bow would ride a bit high. With the Trident we moved the cockpit forward, thereby moving the weight forward which in turn trims the boat out on the water and allows the kayak better glide and a quieter ride.

For me the best new addition to the Trident is the Rod Pod, I can now stow my rods below deck before hitting the surf without having to slide forward to the bow hatch. I also keep my insulted game bag right underneath it so I can quickly get the fish I am keeping on ice.

KFM: Is there anything new in the Ocean Kayak pipeline being worked on?

JS: I actually just returned from the OK facility in Washington, where we had meetings with kayak fisherman from around the country. We are already working on designs for kayaks for 2009 and 2010 plus some really cool kayak fishing accessories. I am not able to give any specifics at this time, but I can say it is a very exciting time to be a kayak fisherman with lots of new toys on the horizon.

KFM: What other kayaks or manufacturers do you think have really hit the mark when it comes to kayak fishing?

JS: Well obviously I am biased towards Ocean Kayak but I do see a lot of great innovation out there. The great thing is that all these companies are driving each other to make a better product, which in the end is a huge bonus to the kayak fishermen out there. Whether it is for the paddler or the pedaler er there is great stuff on the horizon for all kayak anglers.

KFM: What do you see on the horizon for kayak fishing?

For the adventurous kayak angler I think we will be seeing more exciting destinations that want to cater to the kayak angler targeting more exotic fish. I think that as kayak anglers become more accomplished paddlers you will see a cross over from the performance kayak to the fishing kayak which I am real excited to see, though I think that is a few years away. With companies like Shimano, Quantum and Okuma from the fishing industry getting involved in the kayak fishing market we are going to see gear that will hold up to the harsh environment of the kayak and made to be more comfortable to fish with from the kayak. I just hope that as it grows, it stays the great community that I have seen from the start.

KFM: I hear you helped Shimano design a bait system, what is the deal on that and what are the applications to kayak fishing?

JS: I have been building bait systems for the kayak fisherman for many years, and had the first commercially available kayak bait tank. Live bait fishing is such a huge part of our West Coast fishery and I got tired of dragging a sled behind me.

Shimano approached me last year to help them in the design of some kayak specific products and the kayak live well is our first item. It is soft sided so it is very tough and very easy to travel with. It is a self contained full circulating live well and It comes with four rod holders and a dry compartment for the battery. You can easily keep two dozen mackerel alive all day and it fits perfectly in the back of most fishing kayaks. I use it as carry on luggage when I fly to Baja, when I arrive I attach the pump and I have a bait tank.

Needless to say we were very excited when it won best new product at the ICAST fishing industry show this year.

KFM: What is your favorite species to fish for?

JS: In our local waters it is pretty tough to beat a Yellowtail for toughness or a thresher shark for excitement. Down in Baja I just have to go with Marlin, having a fish of that size jumping near you then taking you on a sleigh ride at speeds your paddling friends can't keep up with is a feeling you will never forget.

KFM: When are you going to take an East Coast trip to fish for some big stripers?

JS: It is certainly on my to do list, Eric Burnley has caught some great fish and has thrown out the invite a few times so it will happen soon, hopefully with camera in tow.

KFM: Are there any fishing trips or other species that you want to go after?

JS: The to do list is long, I need to get back up to Alaska with Howard McKim and get a big Halibut, I didn't get one the last time I went. I would like to get a BIG Tarpon and I have been invited to fish the Amazon, which sounds very exciting. If there is water and a big fish I want to give it a go in my kayak.

KFM: So what is next for Jim Sammons?

JS: I really want to fish as many places as possible from my kayak, getting it all on video to share with other kayak anglers. That is what I am working on now; I want to share the sport I love with as many people as possible. None of which I could do without the support of my family particularly my wonderful and very understanding wife of twenty years Allene.


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